by Cary Millsap (2016)

In 2003, former Oracle Corporation employees Cary Millsap and Jeff Holt wrote a book with the goal in mind to bring some scientific rigor to the practice of Oracle performance. Their book, Optimizing Oracle Performance, started a revolution. After nearly a decade of research and development, Cary Millsap’s new book, The Method R Guide to Mastering Oracle Trace Data, Second Edition advances the cause of that revolution in impressive detail.

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As with Optimizing Oracle Performance, the Mastering Oracle Trace Data book is a course book, refined and fortified through contact with hundreds of application developers and database administrators all over the world. It is the basis for both the Method R “Mastering Oracle Trace Data” and the “Thinking Clearly about Performance” courses taught by the author himself.

The anchor of the book, Chapter 1, “Thinking Clearly about Performance,” is a direct follow-up to the 2003 O’Reilly book. Here is Cary’s explanation:

When I wrote Optimizing Oracle Performance with Jeff Holt back in 2003, my goal was to define a reliable, teachable method for fixing software performance problems. After a few months of contentment after finishing the project, I began to notice a trend in how people were responding to it. Many of the questions coming in had started to repeat themselves: “Sure, fixing problems is important, but how can I prevent them?” “The book was fun, but of course I didn’t read the whole chapter on queueing theory; is that stuff really important, anyway?” “Where does capacity planning fit in?” ...And, sadly, I continued to see people make the same mistakes that we had tried to warn people about in the book.
One day, in response to a sequence of questions to which I had responded hundreds of times (at least it seemed), I sat down to write the simplest summary I could of everything I thought people needed to know about software performance. My goal was to connect all the topics in the software performance domain that people needed to understand.
I began with why we should approach performance scientifically in the first place. I defined what performance was, how to measure it, and how to say what you want. I showed how performance problem diagnosis works and how tools like the sequence diagram and the profile help you accomplish your goals. I described how efficiency and speed are different things, how load affects performance, and how capacity planning fits into the whole performance equation. Finally, I wanted to show how instrumentation and logging are vital to creating and running software that meets tough performance constraints.
To my surprise, the paper just flowed out in a coherent document that really wasn’t too long or too difficult to read.
I’ve been thrilled with where the project has taken me. The paper has been downloaded nearly 15,000 times from our web site. It has won numerous awards at user groups at which I’ve spoken, and the article was published in ACM Queue and Communications of the ACM. It is absolutely my favorite material I’ve ever presented. I think that’s because it touches upon almost everything I’ve ever done as a professional.

The Method R Guide to Mastering Oracle Trace Data, Second Edition contains the richest description of Oracle extended SQL trace data that you’ll ever find, and over 100 pages of worked examples, using the software tools built by Cary’s Method R Corporation.

I’ve been a DBA for almost 30 years and deal with Oracle for about 19 and I'm responsible for about 200 instances and 30 Tbytes. I've read lots of books and what impresses me about Cary is that he’s not one of those authors that writes book after book just copying and pasting. He’s serious. And this book is very deep and deals with something most people do not know and that does help drill down onto performance issues. I’ve been using traces for years and it really solves issues. And Cary masters it. I also took his online course on the book and seeing it alive makes concepts be really understood. I do recommend both the course and the book.
Heitor W. Lourenço, Jr.
First Edition review at

The Method R Guide to Mastering Oracle Trace Data, Second Edition is revised and updated, with 132 new pages of detailed content.

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